Wine Regions: Algeria
Wines were planted along what is now the Algerian coast in classical times, but the Algerian vineyards as they exist today were started by the French colonists in the early part of the 19th century. The provinces where vines are grown are those of Oran. Alger and Constantine, and although some white wines are made, the greater part of the quality production is of red wines. Algerian wines received a bad and not altogether deserved reputation when they were shipped to a wine-starved U.K. during the war. although even some of these were of passable quality. At their best, they can give pleasurable drinking in the medium price ranges and, before Algeria became independent in 1962, were sent in increasing quantities to France. Here they were often used for blending, but in fact the wines of certain producers were sold and enjoyed by themselves. After 1962 the majority of the French who had owned the vineyards had to leave, and the problem of maintaining the quality they had achieved was inevitably great.
Up to this time it is probably true to say that Algerian wines were, overall, the best of those produced in North Africa, but now stricter controls in France prevent the use of Algerian wines for blending. The absence of skilled winemakers in Algeria these days, plus the circumstance of Algeria being an Islamic country, make it difficult to know what may be the future of these wines. Algerians may prefer to cultivate vines for table grapes and to plant other fruit.